Removing Dried Grout from Tile
LESLIE: Chris in New Jersey’s got some trouble with some dried grout. What can we do for you?
CHRIS: Oh, Leslie Segrete.
LESLIE: Oh, Chris in New Jersey.
CHRIS: I love you. That’s all I have to say first and foremost but now I’ll get to my point. (Leslie laughs)
LESLIE: Well, I thank you.
CHRIS: I recently got a job cleaning dorm-type houses; three and four bathrooms apiece and large kitchens. Now every wall and floor surface is covered in tile which was done this past January. Now I go in there and they didn’t clean it off properly so it’s thick smears of concrete-like, you know, substance. I let it soak. I tried everything. And she’s expecting me to get it all off and I’m at a loss. I have no idea what to do. I tried to, like I said, wet it down and, you know, I don’t want to scratch the surface of the tiles and that’s on walls and floor.
TOM: Chris, do you think this is extra grout? Is that what it is?
CHRIS: It is. It is extra grout. She said so herself. And it looks just like mud’s been smeared all over.
CHRIS: They just initially wiped it; did not clean it off properly.
LESLIE: So it’s not a clouding? It’s actual chunks.
CHRIS: Oh, yeah. It’s chunks. It’s chunks and smears and thick at some points. Yes, on floor and walls.
TOM: Chris, this is not a cleaning job. This is a repair job, OK?
CHRIS: Oh, no. OK.
TOM: They’ve done a sloppy job of it to begin with and if you can’t get it off through normal elbow grease – and I’m sure you’re trying scouring pads and all that kind of stuff –
CHRIS: (overlapping voices) And I did, oh.
TOM: You know, the professional tile contractors will sometimes go at that with sulfuric acid cleaners …
TOM: … which are very, very corrosive and have to use very, very carefully.
TOM: But if it’s that sloppily done, I’m afraid that there’s not going to be a whole lot that you’re going to do to make this particular customer happy because it’s just not done right to begin with.
CHRIS: Right. Well she just had a friend do it. It wasn’t even a professional, obviously.
TOM: Tell her she got what she paid for. (chuckling)
CHRIS: And now I’m stuck with doing these homes. And when you talk about three and four bathrooms, huge kitchens – you know, like dorm-style things? –
CHRIS: – I’m at a loss and I’ve been mopping and wiping. And she swears that it’ll come off but it hasn’t (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Yeah, well listen. You know what our advice is, Chris?
TOM: Walk away.
CHRIS: Walk away?
TOM: Tell her you did your best. You did your best. You got professional advice and that, you know, she probably should have hired somebody that knew a little bit more about tile work. Because if you leave that grout on too long and it gets stuck to the top of the surface, man, it’s almost impossible to get it off. You can try scraping it off or even buffing it off, but if it doesn’t come off easily it’s not – it’s just not going to happen.
LESLIE: But what the pros do use, Chris, is the sulfuric acid. You need to buy it at a lumber yard. It needs to be mixed exactly to …
CHRIS: Oh, yes. And let her friend try that then …
CHRIS: … because I’m out of that. But Leslie, I love you. I just want to tell you.
LESLIE: Thanks, Chris. I love you, too.
CHRIS: And I watch all the home improvement shows and everything and I think you’re fantastic.
LESLIE: Thank you so much. Don’t let one bad project ruin it.
CHRIS: OK. Bye-bye.